Simulated eutrophication and browning alters zooplankton nutritional quality and determines juvenile fish growth and survival
AuthorTaipale, Sami Johan; Kahilainen, Kimmo Kalevi; Holtgrieve, Gordon William; Peltomaa, Elina Talvikki
The first few months of life is the most vulnerable period for fish and their optimal hatching time with zooplankton prey is favored by natural selection. Traditionally, however, prey abundance (i.e., zooplankton density) has been considered important, whereas prey nutritional composition has been largely neglected in natural settings. High‐quality zooplankton, rich in both essential amino acids (EAAs) and fatty acids (FAs), are required as starting prey to initiate development and fast juvenile growth. Prey quality is dependent on environmental conditions, and, for example, eutrophication and browning are two major factors defining primary producer community structures that will directly determine the nutritional quality of the basal food sources (algae, bacteria, terrestrial matter) for zooplankton. We experimentally tested how eutrophication and browning affect the growth and survival of juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) by changing the quality of basal resources. We fed the fish on herbivorous zooplankton (Daphnia) grown with foods of different nutritional quality (algae, bacteria, terrestrial matter), and used GC‐MS, stable isotope labeling as well as bulk and compound‐specific stable isotope analyses for detecting the effects of different diets on the nutritional status of fish. The content of EAAs and omega‐3 (ω‐3) polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs) in basal foods and zooplankton decreased in both eutrophication and browning treatments. The decrease in ω‐3 PUFA and especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was reflected to fish juveniles, but they were able to compensate for low availability of EAAs in their food. Therefore, the reduced growth and survival of the juvenile fish was linked to the low availability of DHA. Fish showed very low ability to convert alpha‐linolenic acid (ALA) to DHA. We conclude that eutrophication and browning decrease the availability of the originally phytoplankton‐derived DHA for zooplankton and juvenile fish, suggesting bottom‐up regulation of food web quality.
Source at https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3832.